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Freedom Day is celebrated in South Africa

27 April commemorates the day in 1994 when the first democratic election was held in South Africa. Today, South Africa celebrates Freedom Day to mark the liberation of our country and its people from a long period of colonialism and White minority domination (apartheid). Apartheid 'officially' began in South Africa in 1948, but colonialism and oppression of the African majority had plagued South Africa since 1652.

After decades of resistance, a stalemate between the Liberation Movement and the Apartheid government was reached in 1988. The ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP), Pan African Congress (PAC) and other organisations were later unbanned on 2 February 1990, and a non-racial constitution was eventually agreed upon and adopted in 1993.

On 27 April 1994, the nation finally cast its vote in the first democratic election in the country. The ANC was then voted into power, and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the President of South Africa on 10 May. It is important to note however, that "freedom" should mean emancipation from poverty, unemployment, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. We are 26 years into our new democracy and many of these issues are still rife in our country. We are still a long way away from solving many of the legacies of Apartheid and now face new challenges, like the growing inequality among South Africans and political and economic instability in the region caused by a new elite who are interested in pursuing their own interests. Freedom Day therefore serves as a reminder to us that the guarantee of our freedom requires us to remain permanently vigilant against corruption and the erosion of the values of the Freedom Struggle and to build an active citizenry that will work towards wiping out the legacy of racism, inequality and the promotion of the rights embodied in our constitution.




70 years since the Group Areas Act was Passed into legislation.

Group Areas Act, Act No 41 of 1950

The Group Areas Act was a collection of laws that defined and allowed for the implementation of racial segregation of people in South Africa. They were classified into 4 groups namely Whites, Indians, Coloureds and Blacks. Movement of Indians, Coloureds and Blacks was limited to the area they were restricted to and contravening the law involved forced removals of people from prohibited areas.

Housing in Phoenix, (Fiat Lux) - March 1983(Photo - Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre)

Indian Housing slums Tin Town(Photo - Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre)

Trouble in Cato Manor, Natal - Group Areas. October, 1959. (Photo by Drum photographer BAHA)

This year marks 70 years since the Group Areas Act was passed into legislation. "The Group Areas Act was fashioned as the cornerstone of apartheid policy and aimed to eliminate mixed neighbourhoods in favour of racially segregated ones which would allow South Africans to develop separately." (South African Institute for Race Relations, 1950: 26).

We would like to know more about your experiences told through the lens of those personally affected by this monstrous act. You can tell us how this affected you.

Please share your stories and pictures through email or contact us at:

Mr S Pillay

The Group Areas act and apartheid worked hand in hand. In fact, the group areas act complemented the Apartheid Act to be successful.

These acts were most heinous acts passed to ruin the lives of the Black population of South Africa.

The group areas act managed by the Dept. of Community development under the minister Connie Mulder of the Nationalist government It was claimed by the outside world as the biggest estate agency in the World. The reason being that they bought/repossessed the most lucrative and prime business and residential properties for a pittance from the Black population.

The purpose of the Act was to banish the black people far away from the Metros and deprive them of all the benefits, such as sports, recreational amenities as well the economic benefits.

 It disposed them of the best commercial etc. properties and gave it to the Whites on a plate.

I must mention that this heinous act did not stop the Indians from putting their shoulders to the wheel and prove what they are capable of producing. The successes they have made speaks for themselves.

As for myself. I was born and brought up in Hillary during 1940s and 1960s.Hillary was predominantly a White area and the owned and occupied the prime properties. Only a small population of Indians lived there, but far from the White homes. There was buffer zone separating us from the Whites.

The facilities such as water and lights, which was provided for the Whites, was not provided for the Indians. Recreation facilities such as sports fields, parks etc. provided for Whites were not available for use by the Indians.

We could not buy or own properties as it was reserved for White ownership only. Homes were built of wood an iron on leasehold properties. There was about 150 Indian families. All of them working class (labourers) and poor. All the roads in the Indian areas was gravel and never maintained, so that vehicles could not be driven on them. Although only about six vehicles were owned by the Indians. The roads in the White areas were tarred and well maintained.


In the 1960s we were moved out of Hillary and relocated in Chatsworth with limited facilities/. Additional costs was incurred, such travelling to work and schools.

Although living in Hillary was peaceful and comfortable, despite being deprived of lots of amenities etc. It was closer to travel to Durban city with very lost cost Indian bus service.

There  was enough land to cultivate and plant you own veggies etc. fruits ,like mangoes, guavas etc was plentiful at no cost

During my school years at Sastri College, the cost of travelling from Hillary to the college was very cheap but not affordable. The return trip was tickee two and half pence each way by Indian buses that operated from Cato Manor.

Therefore, we had use the Municipal school buses. We had to walk approximately 30 Kms daily to get to the buses. The cost was about 10 shillings per school term. It was worth the sacrifice.

The difficult part was that we had to alight at Smith street and walk to Sastri College, yet the Indian bus rank was right next to the College. Affordability !

On the White school bus, we had to sit in the last seat at the back of the bus. We were not allowed to sit with the white students even if the seats were not occupied.










Gandhi Luthuli King Mandela A legacy for the future

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Last Updated : May 2020